THE SPIRITUAL ENTREPRENEURSo many leaders are exhausted and worried about what happens next. We want to encourage you – look at the changes that have already happened, they demonstrate a new capacity. One of the key features of Covid so far is our partnership with God, He is not thrown by Covid, He has a good plan and purpose. Where He is shaking up, making things new, we want to be with Him. The spiritual entrepreneur thrives in challenging times. A Christian bakery near us sent out pictures of delicious and eye catching cakes and pastries on social media and delivered them in well presented boxes. From being dependent on their shop front they suddenly found a much bigger potential market of people who desired their cakes. Of course, businesses will have tried some things that bombed, but that is a characteristic of the modern entrepreneur you keep trying things out, you get feedback, you look at the costs, you look at your capacity to meet demand. You try again. So, one of the big questions for churches and Christian organisations is – what is your market? Alan Platt is a man who completely turned his church in Pretoria, South Africa around. He used to think his church was called to attract people into the building where they would hear the gospel preached. “We had to shift from the idea that we are simply pastoring a church to the thought that we are actually pastoring a community. God’s call is for us to go beyond church growth and settle for nothing short of our communities reflecting in various ways the presence of Christ” Alan talks about every member of his church having a call and ministry. His is a sending out church into the workplace, schools and communities. The presence of God brings shalom, to a world that desperately needs it.
ADAPTING YOUR LEADERSHIPLeadership is changing. We have an old model of the hero leader, they speak with passion, they get things done, they breakthrough barriers, they carry the burdens on their broad shoulders. But increasingly leadership is evaluated by its impact. One person being a hero is not as powerful as leading and releasing one hundred heroes. Today’s Leaders obsess with enabling the people around them to flourish. In church we are seeing refreshed thinking about our call and ministry. Is it about Sunday services or Tuesday’s impact? On Tuesday the church is found in homes, offices, shops, foodbanks, schools, hospitals etc. Today’s challenge is “how do we equip the saints to flourish wherever God sends them”. Alan Scott shows this at work in Coleraine, Northern Ireland. The church found a passion to bless and impact the local community and grew rapidly. God had prepared good works for them to do, just as he is preparing good works in many, many places. He says there are good works, “hidden in the heart of your community that will only be released when you come along and align yourself with them. These are families without purpose, marriages without passion, businesses without direction, communities without hope needing to be reminded of their design.” Here is a model of the new leadership needed. We will look at it in detail below
Most leaders have had to adapt their approaches in the past year. They are listening more – engaging others and exploring new ideas. They are having those courageous conversations which start with phrases like, “I don’t know the way forward …” They are prepared to explore a wide range of possibilities. They want an environment where people flourish and so bring ideas and challenges. They are keen to get feedback on the changes they make so they can tweak and improve them. Astra Zeneca spotted the Covid issues quickly, they identified the needs and adapted quickly. They had robust discussions and agreed key principles around affordability and accessibility. They made themselves accountable globally to build a large scale solution.
Adapting for a spiritual entrepreneur covers three key areas.
- Bring clarity – what do you expect in the future? What are your priorities? What happens next? Ensure people are clear how it applies to them – not just long term but next week and next month.
- Disciple – this is a time for fresh discipling, or as Paul calls it – “equipping the saints for the work of ministry”. This is a key shift – renewing the Great Commission – Jesus sends us out, with all authority, to disciple others. A key element in discipling is encouraging people to flourish in their particular gifts and the places they have been called. New ministries are emerging – whether it be in building a bereavement friendly church, supporting those with anxiety in the workplace, or being a blessing in school. But there is also a new emphasis on the workplace, school and community – God has called disciples to these places – and wants them to flourish.
- Networking – collaborating in new ways with others in our neighbourhoods and workplaces to strengthen our impact. Networking may be with local community organisations, civic authorities, other Christians and churches. It helps us build kingdom, as we learn together, as we share best practice, strengthen our awareness, pray and as we long for other churches and organisations to flourish.
The vision, listening and adapting leads to action. Easy to say, harder to do. We could be paralysed by doing too much. But look at the examples of change we have around us. The local pub acted – it decided what would have the greatest impact. It equipped its staff to deliver the change and welcome their customers in a way that meant customers would keep returning. The local hairdresser also looks at what will have the greatest impact and extends their hours to meet increased demand.
Leaders bring focus. First, they inspire people to act. Second, they help individuals get traction. Traction is that first step, the moving forward that starts to change things. Traction might be working with others or on our own. Third they celebrate change – they recognise what people are doing and encourage them to do more. In a church setting that may mean we communicate a lot more about what is going on in the places where we are having impact. Maybe (I know this is heresy!) reduced preaching and more testimony about God working in our homes, schools, businesses, hospitals – to inspire even more impact.
Spiritual entrepreneurship is fueled by compassion. Its starting point is the awareness of how much we are loved, and how much God cares about every situation we find ourselves in.
A CALL TO ACTION
Adapting our leadership is not easy. Reshaping our vision, listening well, adapting our approaches and moving into action all bring challenge. Making it work means personal change. Leaders are more aware that it is ok to be vulnerable, that it is wise to look for advice and ideas from others, that credibility comes when we are authentic. Here are some suggested actions
- We can spend a lot of time thinking and praying about what must change – ensure you invest time in thinking HOW you, and the culture around you changes
- This is a time for discussions, creativity and ideas – who will give you different perspectives?
- Look beyond the “usual suspects” for ideas. There is a wealth of wisdom around you